Help! Driving times...

Jan 7th, 2004, 04:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 28
Help! Driving times...

After reading another post in which someone had an unrealistic itinerary, I decided it would be great if someone (a Kiwi or an experienced NZ traveller) could review my trip to make sure I didn't underestimate the driving times.

I should start by saying that we are two relatively young yet experienced travellers. I realize that our schedule is brisk but we are trying to get as much bang for our buck as possible. Here is our itinerary:
DAY 1 - arrive Auckland in early morning; drive to Coromandel or Hahei (2 hours); see Cathedral Beach and Hot Springs Beach
DAY 2 - drive to Rotorua (3.75 hours); visit cultual center & zorb
DAY 3 - see thermal springs; drive to Waitomo (1.5 hours); black water rafting trip
DAY 4 - abseil trip; drive to Pipiriki (4 hours?)
DAY 5 - jetboat to Bridge to Nowhere; canoe to Pipiriki; drive to Koriniti (.75 hours)
DAY 6 - drive to Wellington (3.5 hours); ferry to Picton (3 hours); (I know this is tons of driving so we just consider this a travel day)
DAY 7 - drive to Marahau (2.25 hours); boat to Awaroa Lodge; kayak & hike
DAY 8 - boat to Marahau; drive to Buller Gorge (3.5 hours)
DAY 9 - swingbridge & flying fox; drive to Arthur's Pass (2.5 hours); drive to Franz Josef (3.25 hours)
DAY 10 - short hike on glacier; drive to Queenstown (5 hours)
DAY 11 - drive to Manapouri (2.5 hours); overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound
DAY 12 - drive to Te Anau (.25 hours)
DAY 13-16 - tramp Milford Track
DAY 17 - Milford Sound morning cruise; drive to Queenstown (3.75 hours)

I used the following sites to get driving times:

The Pure NZ site was great because it had alot more cities listed (in the driving route section) and since it's New Zealand's official tourist website, I assume it's accurate.

Thanks for reading such a long post. Any feedback is much appreciated...
cbegbie is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 06:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 658
I have the New Zealand Automobile Association travel times, which I know are conservative.

In general, they seem to agree with your times, with a few exceptions. They suggest Rotorua to Waitomo should be 2:45, I have driven that several times and I think your 1:30 is a little optimistic. In an itiniary I am debveloping at the moment I am allowing 2:45 via Taupo, which is not the most direct route.

They don?t have Pipiriki listed, but give Waitomo to Wanganui as 5:10, so your 4:00 looks about right, although the last bit will be slow driving on narrow winding roads.

I would think 3:30 to Wellington is about right, although the AA suggests 7:10, but that is an obvious mistake. (They also have the distance wrong)

Five hours from Franz Josef to Queenstown through Haast Pass is pushing it, the AA says 7:45, I would expect between 6:00 and 6:30.

Finally, Milford to Queenstown, will take about five hours, the stretch from Milford to Te Anau is slow going.
Tangata is offline  
Jan 7th, 2004, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I have to agree with Tangata regarding the drive from Franz Josef to Queenstown. In 2002 we drove from Fox Glacier to Queenstown - Fox is 25 km from Franz Josef on the way to Queenstown - and it took us 6 hours. We encountered snow on Haast Pass and we made a very quick stop in

It's 390 km from Franz Josef to Queenstown.

In 2003, we drove from Milford to Te Anau in 1 hour and 40 minutes, and from Te Anau to Queenstown in two hours for a total of 3:40, so it looks like you're pretty close there. We were there during the off season, so the roads might be more crowded if you're going during the high season.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 07:55 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 168
I just returned from a 2 week vacation in New Zealand in which we did quite a bit of driving.

It took us about 3 hours to get from Waitomo to Rotorua. However, we did get lost (ok, not lost, but sidetracked) when we tried to find a short cut - we did go in the correct direction, but ended up on a few gravel, rural roads! I would think the drive should be around 2 - 2.5 hours.

I see you are planning on black water rafting while you are in Waitomo. I didn't do this, but we loved the Haggas Honking Holes adventure. This was a full on caving adventure - absails, rock climbs, drops, etc. From what I was told, it is more "adventure" than black water rafting. I don't want to talk you out of rafting, just wanted to throw out another idea.

You said a "short hike on glacier." Are you doing this alone, or with a guided group. We did the half day hike on Franz Josef which ended around 2:00 pm. This would be a long day if you plan to drive to Queenstown. If you are planning on doing the heli-hike (which is shorter) be careful. We had planned on the heli-hike (and planned on getting out around noon) but they cancelled it because of the weather. Apparently, they have to cancel this trip quite often. So if you are counting on the heli-hike, just be aware that you might not be able to do this.

The drive from Queenstown to Franz Josef took us around 6.5 hours. We did stop a few times, so it could probably be done in about 6.

Your 3.75 hours from Milford Sound to Queenstown might be pushing it. We took the bus out there (and originally had planned to fly back, but again, they cancelled it because of the weather) and had to bus back, but it took us about 5 hours.

Have a great time! I'm jealous - I would go back tomorrow if I could!
travelersusan is offline  
Jan 8th, 2004, 02:35 PM
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tides -

i just wanted to make a quick suggestion regarding "hot springs beach" (which i think means "hot water beach"): if you are going there to experience the thermal effects, you have to find out when the tides are the day of your trip to time your visit correctly.

have fun!
Jan 8th, 2004, 03:13 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 28
Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who took the time to read my wordy post and give me feedback. I really appreciate it and will revise my itinerary with the new times everyone suggested.
cbegbie is offline  
Jan 9th, 2004, 06:40 AM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 9
We just returned from 2 weeks in NZ as well. I share Susan's concern about Day 10. We did a half-day hike on Franz Joseph, the 9:15 am which is the earliest they offer. We grabbed lunch and got right on the road. It took us 5 hours to drive to Wanaka, and we were very tired.
Also, on your Day 6, you might want to consider taking the Lynx ferry. It's a little more expensive, but will save you at least an hour.
We did a lot of driving (over 2200km in 20 days) and most times it took a little longer than expected.
Have a great trip!
thornhill5 is offline  
Nov 4th, 2004, 10:52 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 26
Hi, I m planning a trip to NZ in Dec and would visit Franz Josef Glacier.

We would be driving to Franz from Christchurch (427km), how long would the drive take? 5.5 hr?
Any accomodation suggestions @ Franz Josef Glacier area?

We'r considering to take the half-day hiking, plus the ski-planes (40 mins). Is it possible?

We plan to leave on the next day and drive to Queenstown.

dhui is offline  
Nov 5th, 2004, 01:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 658
I would think about 6.5 hours.
Tangata is offline  

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